The Fox & Goose, a 129-year-old pub with rooms in the quaint village of Parracombe in Exmoor, has been taken over by operators Craig Smith and Aidan Palphramand after a successful acquisition financing deal with specialist hospitality lenders, The Cumberland Building Society.

Craig Smith was born into a family of hoteliers, with his father and grandparents both operating their own hotels. He said: “Due to economic reasons, I sadly wasn’t able to take over my father’s hospitality business when he passed. Purchasing the Fox & Goose feels like I’m finally able to carry on his legacy.”

Aidan, Craig’s husband, is also no stranger to hospitality with his family running game lodges and hospitality businesses across the world.

Andy Gibson, Commercial Relationship Manager at The Cumberland Building Society, said: “From early conversations with Craig and Aidan, we knew straight away that we wanted to support them in finding their dream B&B.

“The pair really embody our Kinder Banking purpose, giving back to their local community and placing an onus on sustainability. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next for the Fox & Goose.”

The pair have only been operating the site for a little over a month but have already got to work on listening to what the local community wants and needs and taking steps to best serve them.

Craig said: “Aidan is an accountant by trade and so joined the local parish council as the treasurer pretty much as soon as we moved here. It’s a great chance for us to give back to the local community, as well as hear firsthand what else is going on and what issues the community is facing.

“One of the first issues that we noticed was that the local post office in the village closed down a few years ago leaving locals with nowhere to go. We host the travelling postmaster in our dining room every Tuesday so that the locals can come in and post parcels, access basic banking and socialise. This is particularly important for the elderly members of the community who prefer to do things in person.”

He continued: “We also offer out space in our car park for the local fishmonger to sell his fresh fish every week.

“However, during lockdown when businesses like these suffered tremendously, especially wet sales, the dining areas were renovated akin to a metropolitan-style gastropub. Whilst this was a necessary business measure, some of the local community felt that they’d lost their ‘local’. So we immediately removed the tables from half of the dining room and brought all the old wooden pub furniture back to restore it to its former glory.”

There has been a Fox & Goose pub on the site since the 16th century, but the current building was erected in 1894.

Craig said: “It’s such an old building and so we aren’t on the gas grid meaning we have a huge oil container in the back garden to heat the property. We’re looking at potentially installing a heat pump to make that more sustainable. We also have solar panels installed on the roof which reduces our reliance on non-renewable energy sources.

“In terms of our supply chains, all of the ingredients used in our kitchen are locally sourced. The venison on the menu is from Exmoor, the eggs are from a local farm and some of the fish is from the village fishmonger. It’s really important to us to support local businesses and reduce our carbon footprint in the process.”

The pair were introduced to The Cumberland through Chris Arnold at Arnold Commercial Finance Limited. He said: “As Craig and Aidan are first time landlords, the high street banks dismissed their application out of hand. It was refreshing that The Cumberland took a keen interest in their project from day one. I wish Craig and Aidan every success at The Fox & Goose”.

On their relationship with The Cumberland, Craig said: “There is a real level of friendship with The Cumberland that you just don’t get with other banks. They weren’t just offering us financial support; they really took the time to listen to our vision and advise us as first-time business buyers. From our first conversation with Andy, I knew we weren’t going to look elsewhere.”

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